DALY CITY – Haru Nomura is a winner once again in 2016.
Braving the windy conditions that dominated play this week at Lake Merced Golf Club, Nomura took both the 36 and 54-hole leads at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. She began the final round with a 3-stroke lead ahead of Lee-Anne Pace and Na Yeon Choi and told the media on Saturday she believed a round of 2-under or even par would be all she needed to win on Sunday. With winds gusting to nearly 40 miles per hour during the final round, Nomura got it done with a 1-over par, 73 to win by four at 9-under par, the highest winning score of 2016.
A testament to the tough conditions on Sunday: not one player who started the day the top-10 carded a sub-par final round. This week’s Tournament played the toughest of 2016 thus far with the highest winning score at 9-under par. 10 players finished under par for the week, the fewest of any event in 2016 Eun Hee Ji carded the low round on Sunday with a 2-under par, 70.
The day wasn’t without it’s ups and downs for Nomura, who made three consecutive bogeys on the front nine to drop her lead to one. But she was able to turn the tide by draining a70-footer for birdie at the par 3, 12th hole to once again extend her lead. With her victory this week, Nomura becomes the third multiple winner of 2016, having captured the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February for her first win on Tour. She joins Ha Na Jang and Lydia Ko as the only multiple winners this season.
Lee-Anne Pace started the day just 3-back of Nomura and in a share of second, but quickly fell out of contention by making bogey on her first five holes of the day before bouncing back with a birdie at the par 5, 6th. Pace continued to rebound, adding four more birdies and two bogeys to finish with a 2-over par, 74. It was good enough for a second place finish, her best finish since winning the 2014 Blue Bay LPGA.
Na Yeon Choi looked to have a chance of catching Nomura on Sunday, closing within one of the lead at 7-under par before a two-shot swing at the 15th hole, compounded by a double bogey at the 16th hole, dropped her out of contention. Choi carded a final round 3-over par, 75 to finish T-4 at 4-under par for the week and five back of Nomura.
Gerina Piller played some inspired golf on Sunday. She spent much of the front nine as the only player in the top-10 under par for the day. Before teeing off she watched her husband Martin Piller’s in contention at the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open where he finished T-4. Piller climbed within one-stroke of Nomura at the par 4, 11th before making double bogey after her wayward tee shot found its way into the fescue. She was unable to recover, carding a 1-over par, 73 to finish T-3 at 4-under par.
A third win wasn’t in the cards for two-time defending champion Lydia Ko, who celebrated her 19th birthday on Sunday. The world No.1 posted a 3-over par, 75 to finish at 1-under par for the week and T-6.
Michelle Wie withdrew after the 15th hole on Sunday due to neck spasms.